NRAO eNews
Volume 11, Issue 1
4 January 2018

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NRAO eNews

Volume 11, Issue 1 4 January 2018

Upcoming Events

NRAO Town Hall at the Jan 2018 AAS Meeting
Jan 11, 2018 | National Harbor, MD

The Very Large Array Today and Tomorrow
Jan 11, 2018 | National Harbor, MD

Synthesis Imaging Workshop
May 16 - 23, 2018 | Socorro, NM

NRAO 2018B Call for Proposals

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The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) invites scientists to participate in the Semester 2018B Call for Proposals for the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA).

The submission deadline for Semester 2018B proposals is Thursday, 1 February 2018, at 17:00 EST (22:00 UTC).

The NRAO especially wishes to highlight continuing opportunities for joint observations with the Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Hubble Space Telescope and the Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission.

Proposal preparation and submission are via the NRAO Proposal Submission Tool (PST) available at NRAO Interactive Services. Note that PST use requires registration. Proposers who need assistance with proposal preparation or have questions regarding the Call or NRAO telescope capabilities should contact Observatory staff via the NRAO Helpdesk.

ngVLA Project News

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As the next-generation Very Large Array (ngVLA) Program enters 2018, we have a large number internal and community-driven activities, focused on delivering a cogent science case and mature design to the Astro 2020 Decadal Review. Visit our new website to learn more.

American Astronomical Society Meeting – Special Session
A Special Session titled The Very Large Array Today and Tomorrow will occur as part of the American Astronomical Society meeting in National Harbor, Maryland and will include invited oral presentations in Session 321, and an associated poster session with contributed presentations (Session 342).

Thursday, 11 January 2018

Poster Session 342
9:00 am – 6:30 pm
Prince Georges Exhibit Hall

Oral Session 321
2:00 – 3:30 pm
Potomac D

Community-Driven Activities
Given the success of our first round of ngVLA Community Studies, a second round was initiated to tackle some of the most pressing questions unveiled by the initial studies. The primary objective for the second round of community studies is to further develop the Key Science Goals outlined in Memo #19. Studies and simulations were asked to focus on addressing these key science goals, and better quantifying the expected performance of the array while providing additional supporting technical requirements.

The second call yielded 12 approved scientific studies. All accepted Community Studies efforts from this second round are expected to write up their findings as part of a peer-refereed journal article or ngVLA memo, and present their progress/final results at the Astronomy Frontiers in the next Decade and Beyond conference, 26-29 June 2018 in Portland, Oregon.

ngVLA Science Case
The ngVLA science case volume is in preparation and is a major deliverable to the Astronomy 2020 Decadal Survey. This science volume is being crafted by the ngVLA Science Advisory Council, in consultation with the astronomical community at large, and the ngVLA Project Scientist. The volume will provide an extremely useful summary of the ngVLA Key Science Mission for Astro2020 panel members, as well as demonstrate the Project's firm handle on the associated technology requirements and cost.

This volume will be published in the Astronomical Society of the Pacific monograph series. This will ensure that the book and individual chapters will be listed in the SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System for maximum visibility to the Astro 2020 panel members.

An initial table of contents identifying potential lead authors will be updated regularly. If you would like to contribute a chapter, please contact the appropriate Science Working Group Chair and download the necessary template and instructions.

Career Opportunities
The project is currently interviewing candidates for a Configuration Research Associate and plans to advertise additional positions in the areas of Array Calibration Activities and Science Community Support.

ALMA Program News


Pablo Carrillo

An ALMA antenna (foreground), and the 5916m elevation stratovolcano Licancabur (background), on the border between Bolivia and Chile, 40km east of San Pedro de Atacama.

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ALMA is now in its shrinking cycle as it contracts to configurations more suitable for summertime observing. ALMA is currently in configuration C43-6 – 0.3 arcsec beam at 100 GHz, 15m to ~2.5km baselines – and will shrink to configuration C43-5 as the Sun returns to the northern sky in 2018.

A pre-announcement for the ALMA Cycle 6 Call for Proposals has been published to the ALMA Science Portal. Information on the Cycle 6 configuration schedule will appear at the ALMA Science Portal on 1 February 2018. Anticipated capabilities to be offered for ALMA Cycle 6 are briefly described. Highlights include:

  • Circular polarization proposals will be accepted for Bands 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 in all (including circular) polarization modes for continuum and spectral-line observations.
  • Band 8 will become a standard mode starting in Cycle 6.
  • The Band 6 IF bandwidth has been increased by 0.5 GHz, which will enable 12CO, 13CO, and C18O J=2-1 to be observed simultaneously within broader spectral windows for galactic sources and nearby galaxies.

Elements of the ALMA2030 development program of new science opportunities with ALMA will be discussed at a special session at the North American Radio Science meeting in Boulder, Colorado 4-7 January 2018. A workshop to discuss science and technical aspects of the Atacama Large-Aperture Submm/mm Telescope (AtLAST) will be held at ESO Headquarters, Garching bei München, Germany on 17-19 January 2018. The next North American ALMA Science Center science conference – Magnetic Fields or Turbulence: Which is the critical factor for the formation of stars and planetary disks? – will take place in Hsinchu, Taiwan 6-9 February 2018.

SMA Call for Large Scale and Standard Projects Proposals - 2018A Semester

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We wish to draw your attention to the Large Scale Projects program for observations with the Submillimeter Array (SMA), which is now accepting Notices of Intent to propose. Under this program, proposals dedicated to answering major astrophysical questions having significant scientific impact requiring observing times of order 100-1000 hours are solicited. In this communication, we are also pre-announcing the dates for standard observing proposals. These calls are for the 2018A semester with observing period 16 May – 15 Nov 2018.

The SMA is a reconfigurable interferometric array of eight 6-m antennas on Maunakea jointly built and operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Academia Sinica Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics. The array operates in the 230, 345 and 400 GHz bands.

The SMA has recently completed significant upgrades in observational capability, with more under way. Currently, the SMA observes simultaneously with two orthogonally polarized receivers, one in the 230 GHz or 345 GHz band and the other in the 240 GHz or 400 GHz band (with full polarimetric observations available using the 230+240 or 345+400 band combinations). The SWARM correlator processes 8 GHz bandwidth for each receiver in each sideband, for a total of 32 GHz, at a uniform 140 kHz resolution. This 32 GHz frequency coverage can be continuous where the tuning ranges overlap for the two orthogonally polarized receivers. In short, the SMA now provides flexible, wide band frequency coverage that delivers high continuum sensitivity and excellent spectral line capabilities. A full track offers continuum sensitivity of 200 or 500 micro-Jy (1 sigma) at 230 or 345 GHz in good weather conditions (precipitable water vapor 2.5mm and 1.0mm, respectively). The corresponding line sensitivities at 1 km/s resolution are 30 and 70 mJy. The small antennas allow access to low spatial frequencies in the sub-compact configuration, and at the other extreme, the finest angular resolution with the very extended configuration at 345 GHz is ~ 0.25". The compact and extended configurations complete the range. Thus, in some ways, the characteristics and performance of the SMA are both similar and complementary to those of the stand-alone Atacama Compact Array (ACA) component of ALMA. For more information about SMA capabilities, visit the SMA Observer Center website and explore the set of SMA proposing tools. Current and archived SMA Newsletters available online provide a sampling of the wide variety of science possible with the SMA.

The Large Scale Projects program follows a phased development, submission and review path, with the final selection of successful proposals synchronized with the TAC process for regular proposals. Accordingly, a Notice of Intent is required ahead of full submission. The deadlines are:

Large Scale Projects proposals
Notice of Intent: 15 January 2018
Full submission: 20 February 2018

Standard Observing Proposals
Submissions open : 15 January 2018 (expected date)
Submissions Close : 08 March 2018

A second announcement will be circulated when the standard proposal system opens for submissions.

For more details visit the following websites:
General | Large Scale Projects | Notice of Intent

Questions or comments regarding the Call for Large Scale Proposals can be addressed to and on standard proposals to

Arizona Radio Observatory Call for Proposals

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The Arizona Radio Observatory (ARO) solicits observing proposals for the ALMA Prototype 12-meter Telescope (12m) located on Kitt Peak, Arizona, and for the 10-meter Submillimeter Telescope (SMT) located on Mount Graham, Arizona, for the period 15 February 2018 – 15 June 2018. Proposal candidates should submit up to three pages of scientific and technical justification (including figures, tables, and references) in addition to their Proposal Summary Sheet (download form).

All proposal candidates are required to list on the Proposal Summary Sheet their requested observing blocks (the exact LST ranges to be scheduled and number of times to be repeated), dates on which they are not available to observe, and dates in which sources in those observing blocks are within the Sun-avoidance zone (45 degrees at the SMT, 10 degrees at the 12m).

The 12m ALMA Prototype antenna currently supports an ALMA Band 3 (82.5-116 GHz) dual-polarization SBS (sideband-separating) receiver. The 12m control system supports dual-polarization in the same sideband or single-polarization in each sideband (“2 IF mode”), position-switched, beam-switched, and OTF observations. A new spectrometer, AROWS, is being commissioned on the 12m telescope and is being made available on a best effort basis with 2 channels. The AROWS center IF frequency is fixed at 6.0 GHz for the full 4 GHz bandwidth mode, but is steerable within the 4 GHz IF bandwidth in the higher resolution/smaller bandwidth modes.  The older MAC autocorrelator and filter banks will still be available as a backup. Possible backend modes may be found on the ARO Equipment Summary and Status sheet.

The 10m SMT currently supports a dual-polarization ALMA Band 6 (211-280 GHz) receiver with SBS mixers and a Band 7 (320-370 GHz) DSB receiver. Higher frequency receivers will not be available this semester. The SMT control system supports both dual-polarization ("2 IF mode") and dual-polarization + dual-sideband observations ("4 IF mode") with tunable IF from 4.5-7.5 GHz, for position-switched, beam-switched, and OTF observations. Proposal candidates should consult the ARO Equipment Summary and Status sheet for additional technical specifications.

Remote observing is available. Observers who plan to observe remotely must supply fixed IP address(es) of the computer(s) that will be used during observing on their Proposal Summary Sheet. For further information about remote observing and other operational questions, please contact Tom Folkers, Operations Manager.

Proposals will be reviewed by the ARO TAC and scheduling of successful proposals will be done according to availability of the receivers requested.  The telescopes are expected to be available to the general astronomical community for a minimum of 10 percent of the scheduled time. Graduate student participation is especially encouraged. Institutions (or individuals) that wish to acquire longer commitments of time should contact Buell Jannuzi, Director.

Next deadline for proposals is 23:59 MST on 16 January 2018.

Proposals should be emailed in PDF format to:

Names & Acknowledgement Policies in Publications Using NRAO Data

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In initial references to the Very Large Array in any publication, please refer to this research facility as “NSF's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA).” The acronym “VLA” may be used in subsequent references.

Publications that use VLA and/or Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) data should include the acknowledgement: “The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.”

Papers using ALMA data should also include the ALMA acknowledgement:
“This paper makes use of the following ALMA data: ADS/JAO.ALMA#YYYY.#.###.L. ALMA is a partnership of ESO (representing its member states), NSF (USA) and NINS (Japan), together with NRC (Canada), MOST and ASIAA (Taiwan), and KASI (Republic of Korea), in cooperation with the Republic of Chile. The Joint ALMA Observatory is operated by ESO, AUI/NRAO and NAOJ.”

The correct naming convention of NSF's Karl G. Jansky VLA and the NRAO acknowledgement must be employed on publication support requested from NRAO.

More information on NRAO support for page charges, and on the facility naming convention, is online at the NRAO Library website. For questions or comments, please contact the Observatory Librarian.

Career Opportunities

Assistant Scientist or Software Engineer: The NRAO is recruiting a Scientific staff member or Software Engineer III position (as appropriate for educational qualification) for investigation of the suitability of various imaging algorithms for the science of the ngVLA and to derive the computing load needed to process ngVLA data through those algorithms.

SRDP Project Scientist- Associate or Scientist: The NRAO is seeking an experienced technical and scientific leader to serve as project scientist for the Science Ready Data Products (SRDP) project. The SRDP project will change radio astronomy by delivering data products that are ready to use for scientific study by a wide range of astronomers, including those not expert in interferometry, thereby making radio astronomy more accessible to the broader astronomical community. A major Observatory initiative, the multi-year SRDP project is a significant investment (100+ FTE-years) to deliver “science center functionality” for NRAO’s interferometers. This project builds on the success of the pipelines already in use for ALMA, the VLA, and the VLA Sky Survey, and continues NRAO’s role as a pioneer in radio astronomy.

From the Archives

From the Archives

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About this month's photo: Software issues or hardware? Once each year, the Computing and Information Services (CIS) systems administrators have a face-to-face meeting to discuss Common Computing Environment and other issues. The meetings rotate between sites, and the March 2004 meeting was in Green Bank, West Virginia. Attendees had a high and low altitude tour of the Green Bank Telescope (GBT) on a somewhat damp day. After returning from their vertiginous trip to the top, the red hat group contemplated engineering work in progress on the GBT track. [Left to right] Dave Brown, George Martin, Tracy Halstead, Ruth Milner, Martin Pokorny, and their GBT tour guide, Dave Rose, in the white hard hat. Thanks to Pat Murphy for the photo and for help with the caption.

From the Archives is an ongoing series illustrating NRAO and U.S. radio astronomy history via images selected from our collections of individuals' and institutional papers. If readers have images they believe would be of interest to the Archives, please contact Ellen Bouton.

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